It’s an established pattern that anytime FROM Software releases a game, journalists can be heard screaming from the top of Mt. Cryhard that the game is too difficult and this is a crime against casual players and the disabled.
FROM Software games are notoriously difficult, especially for new players. Even veteran players of From Soft’s Dark Souls and Bloodbourne series will find themselves challenged, but this is a good thing. FROM Soft wouldn’t have half the fanbase it does if it the games were easy.
Its latest game, “Elden Ring,” is not easy.
This is a game that is massive in scope in everything from the map you play on to the story itself. FROM teamed up with writer George R.R. Martin in order to craft a world so rich and in-depth that you could get lost for days in it and hardly scratch the surface. The world is beautifully crafted and what’s more, it’s alive. Flora and fauna of all kinds dominate the landscape, but so do the enemies. Some of them are powerful-looking knights on horseback while some are massive ursine creatures as tall as trees.
Don’t forget about the dragons.
It’s a world that’s not friendly to you at all. Most everything in the land wants to kill you.
And it will.
True to form, Elden Ring follows in the FROM Software tradition of being brutal to the player. From the outset you’re confronted by enemies you cannot defeat and you must seek out weaker enemies to fight and win against in order to make your character strong enough to finally pose a threat to the larger foes. When you do finally defeat these enemies in notoriously difficult battles, you’re left with a sense of accomplishment. Beating a boss in a FROM Soft game is a bragging right, and Elden Ring has them in droves.
A FROM Soft game will teach you patience, learning from your mistakes, strategy. You will fail and fail and fail until you’ve learned enough to win.
Enter the journalists and their complaints about FROM Soft’s notorious difficulty. As blogger and streamer, Sophia Narwitz highlighted, one journalist complained that FROM Soft’s habit of tossing new players into the pool and telling them to swim without teaching them to first isn’t good design and the game shouldn’t be getting the praise it is.
This whole article is a blogger crying cuz they don’t have the capacity to learn a game.
Also, it does tells you how stats work. At the bottom of the status menu is literal text telling you to push a specific button to see descriptions. pic.twitter.com/6WErNIGV7e
— Sophia ‘Dimensional Merger’ Narwitz (@SophNar0747) February 28, 2022
It’s a position that sums up the entirety of the journalists who are complaining. You might be asking why this matters.
It matters for two reasons.
Firstly, FROM Soft games teach you that difficulty and failure aren’t the end, they’re merely stepping stones to being greater. Sure, you can level your character up and get stronger, but it’s not enough to beat the tougher bosses. You have to learn about your enemies, your surroundings, and yourself. It may sound silly, but these are great lessons. Many people have reported that playing through FROM Soft games has brought them through deep depressions. The difficulty along with the feel of FROM Software worlds resonates with people and despite many of these worlds being dark, dreary, and hostile, there’s a strange sense of determination that comes with it.
But secondly, these journalists are being harmful by wishing things were easier.
They’re being harmful by demanding things cater to as many groups as possible and that everything has to be able to be made easier for people at the drop of a hat. If something is difficult or has a steep learning curve, it must be ratcheted down so that it can cater to people who don’t want to play the game as it was meant to be played.
In other words, they want to cheapen it. They want to make the experience worth less than it should be. They want success handed to them. They don’t want to strive for it. They want it to be, like every other thing they run into, easy.
We live in a sea of easy, and it’s created a culture of softness. It’s created a world where everything is worth less as it comes so easy.
It might be just a game, but Elden Ring provides a challenge that makes solving it a far more worthwhile experience. It’s not for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be. Not everything has to cater to the largest group of people possible. If they want an easier game they can move on, but the attempts to push this sameness and ease on everything is killing art and culture, and it’s making us soft, whiney, and useless.